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Saturday, September 09, 2006

As the green trees dance in the rain

I feel awful.

Last night, I attended a dinner with our waiban (the head of the foreign teachers office), some other university higher-ups, and the other foreign teachers. Our waiban, Mr Deng, introduced himself, we made some toasts, and enjoyed a pleasant meal. They gave us some Dove chocolates and 800 kuai (about $100) as a bonus for the upcoming Teacher’s Day on Sunday. It was all very nice and pleasant, good to meet the people that hired me and whatnot, but something from dinner didn’t sit right, and this morning I feel like utter garbage, like I ate nothing but razor blades.

It hurts to move, and I make all-too-frequent trips to the bathroom. I was laying in bed at 9:30 this morning, whishing anything could make this horrible stomach-churning pain go away, when one of my students stopped by. Without even realize what was going on, "Mike" was in my apartment, in my room, at my computer, installing some garbage, asking me to help them.

What the … ?

I couldn’t protest, I couldn’t tell him to get the hell out of my apartment. That’s just not done; it’s not polite, it’s not the Chinese way, and it’s certainly no way for a teacher to treat a student. So I sat and watched, grimacing and making my pain evident, as “Mike” helped install some music and movies he thought I would like. He dropped a few files from his MP3 player/USB drive on to my computer: Growing Pains Episode 109 (Carol’s Crush), some Ace of Base, and Groove Coverage’s (?) “Far Away from Home.”

Thanks, “Mike.”

I walked into the main room, hoping some movement and air would make me feel better. Muzak thundered in through the windows, and as I looked out into the overcast sky, a swell of voices from the street overwhelmed me. What the hell was going on? Why were there so many people?

“The new students, they are moving in,” "Mike" informed me. I looked from my kitchen window onto on of the athletic fields, and saw that it was choked with cars. I looked again at the brooding gray sky: wel, are you going to rain, or are you going to rain? Do it, you coward!

Nicki called, came upstairs; she brought her medpack, and gave me some anti-diarrheal pills, and thankfully, “Mike” left. Some more students stopped by, to hand me their graduation thesis outlines; I took them gratefully, but made sure I didn’t open my door wide enough for them to take it as an invitation to come in. They left, along with Nicki, and now I’ve been in my room, slowly feeling better but still feeling quite ill.

It’s almost the fifth anniversary of September 11. I spent some time this morning reading through a thread over at Evil Avatar, about what you were doing the day of. It’s strange and unsettling that I remember the emotions of that day so strongly. Just staring at the television, hearing the reporters mention that people were jumping from the rooftops … what unimaginable horror and pain was there, where jumping was the better alternative? And honestly, I remember thinking (and still feeling): what madness drove these people to do this? They were young men, not much older than I am now. Shouldn’t they be at home, raising a family, doing something good with their lives, living for happiness and love rather than dedicating themselves so strongly to death and violence? Their deaths are all the more sad, because they died so willingly, and for nothing.

I continued to feel awful. I wasted some time on the net, and was reminded of a very interesting game being developed by the good folks at Valve (they made a game you may have heard of, Half-Life) called Portal. The game was originally designed by students at DigiPen, a game design school in Washington state. They demoed the game for Valve, and were immediately hired. That’s a great story and all, but what’s interesting is the concept: one of the most unique game mechanics I’ve ever seen, one with limitless potential. If you haven’t already, click those links and check it out.

It’s raining now, and the thunder is echoing deep from within the city. It’s one of those tropical rains, that manage to be very wet and very long and yet not refreshing in the least. It will stop raining in a few hours, maybe a day or two, and when it’s clear, everything will be hot and wet, just as it was before.

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